Forum Replies Created
Sure thing, Kirk—Wendy does not seem to have ramped up yet this Spring, but I expect any time now I will start getting boxes… Susan
I will be there, too!
I know I am being a sticker, but the epithet “super” in place of “hive body” is misleading since “super” means “above” as “sub” means “below” and you can really only have one on top. This leads to confusion when newbees are asking for advice on problems and they call everything a “super” and do not designate the brood space hive bodies. I ask my mentees to use accurate language from the beginning.
If we are going to mention local suppliers of bee suits, along with BM, I would ask we explain one problem with some of the local suits—sometimes they do not have elasticized ankle/wrist openings, which allows crawling bees into your suit—necessitating buying gaiters. This feature is pretty important, in my view.
I would list Pierce-Mieras bee supply in Fullerton as lots of folks may find them more convenient, and they have begun supplying “Ray’s Special” foundationless frames, at Ray Teurman’s request—very nice of them. These have a comb guide as part of the under side of the top bar, and no grooves to allow hiding SHB or hive moth. Tom and Jim are also super friendly. They DO NOT take credit cards, but cash or checks only.
So, these are my suggestions!
Hi, Kevin—your points are well taken, regarding the economics and personal choices on crop production. In the end our economic reasons for doing any of the things we choose are going to be shot down by the ecosystem limits on ALL citizens. I am not looking to blame any particular company—they all seem liable to make the same decisions given short term planning and pursuit of profit.
The LA Times ran a story in the Business section just yesterday, Jan 12, “Calif. Almonds, the Toast of the World” detailing the explosive growth of acreage devoted to the crop and diminishing water supplies—but, in the typical weak reporting we always hear, lamenting the “sudden and mysterious death of billions of bees….CCD” The media are loathe to reveal there is a LOT known about this and it is no longer “mysterious” The issues are just many-fold, not a single “cause” and media does not like complicated answers. Quite a few of the baseline problems lie with the beekeepers’ own multiple insults to the bee’s immune system—not a pretty picture of beekeeping.
It is heartening to hear of the European ‘meadow orchard’ model. If only our institutions were so enlightened. The EU ban on neonicotinoids for the next 2 years, though perhaps not long enough to be useful, is at least better than our own agency’s blocking reform/regulation. The EPA tells us in 5 years it will have results from a “study” (the study conducted by the prime culprit, Bayer Crop Science) and then will decide if it is worth it to rein in the use of these awful avian, amphibian, arthropod poisons.
Thanks for your useful responses! Susan
HI, Kevin—Susan here again—actually, the premier of this film, More Than Honey, was Aug 9 and 10 in Beverly Hills. I was called by the director’s staff to ask if I would appear at the showings to answer questions from the audience about beekeeping, especially the use and rescue of feral bees—as shown in the film. Marcus Imhoof, the director, was keen to be accessible to the public in the Q and A afterward, but is not a beek himself. His expertise is in the technical aspects of filming in such close proximity to the bee society. He called me, as the outreach person for education efforts at the BackwardsBeekeepers, and I was pleased to be able to tell people about our work and the value of feral bee genetics. I seem to remember the keeper you mention being in Southern Arizona. (by the way, I was not surprised his bees absconded! I would not take a just extracted hive on a bumpy truck ride over washboard dirt roads, the delicate combs just barely roped into their frames and expect the bees to NOT abandon the hive. I try to use more retention bands for each comb—rubber bands, as it happens—and do as little jostling as possible)
Regarding Mr Miller and his difficulties—our current land of almost a million acres of almonds in the Central Valley of CA is a most egregiously unsustainable model. California is locked in a battle with neighboring states of the South West over the distribution of water supplies from the Colorado River. We are in the midst of a prolonged drought (4 inches for the whole year in ’13, and same predicted for ’14) at a time of rapid climate change. Our governor just approved a preliminary law to increase fracking of oil and gas in CA that is a profligate user of potable water supplies already strained. Overdrafting of water aquifers in the Central Valley has led to land subsidence of 27 feet in some areas and steep drops in the water table. Considering the growth in population projected for CA by 2030 to 48 million (now at 37 mill.) the constraints are untenable. Mr Miller has more working against his business than CCD, varroa, and pesticides. Farming itself is a bloated, profit driven, ecosystem ignoring paradigm. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is trying to educate farmers and pollinator keepers (many native pollinators are as efficient, or more efficient, than Apis mellifera) about the strategies for introducing foraging habitat into farming operations to keep pollinators ON SITE, rather than truck them around the country. This can result in a more robust, healthier, and resilient pollinator population as well as reduce costs. In the Fall, 2013 issue of “Wings” (essays on invertebrate conservation) “the Art and Science of Restoring Pollinator Habitat” by Eric Lee-Mader details the steps to do this and some examples Xerces is collaborating on. (guides are available at http://www.xerces.org/pollinator-conservation) In short, areas between rows of orchard trees and bordering farming fields are prepared and planted with appropriate native annual and perennial flowering plants and shrubs. All my reading convinces me that this ecosystem mimicking model is sorely needed in the modern farming methods. Our fossil fuel intensive input model is not going to be useful for the long run.
Hope this gives you more to discuss! Susan Rudnicki
Hi, Kevin—-OK, I think I understand your management style. However, what I am practicing is called “unlimited brood nest management” which means, before the swarm impulse takes hold of a colony (signs of which are often undetected by new beeks) we note the amount of built out brood combs in proportion to honeycomb and total occupied space, (BEFORE any queen cells are drawn) and add in open frames (foundations are not used—bees draw their own combs) in between the full brood combs. These brood combs used to replace with open frames are transferred up into a new hive body, laddering up the broodnest arrangement for the queen, and reducing the sense of being crowded.
This process has to sometimes be done even in Winter, if there is lots of laying and brood being produced—so we have to watch carefully at all seasons. As I said, the main issue with bees swarming in our urban environment is the fallout from the neighbors and municipal authorities. We simply are constrained by the hysteria that a swarm on the wing engenders in the public.
Hi Kevin—Susan here, beek going into 3rd year, all ferals from cutouts, swarms or trap-outs, 11 hives currently. Since your Question 1 was regarding varroa treatments, I will address the epithet, ‘organics’ as in formic acid. The use of formic acid in organic honey production in the US was prohibited by the NOSB (the nat’l organics standards board) the regulatory body which codifies the term “organic” in the US. No other commercially used term for foodstuffs is regulated as this is. I.e. “natural”, as is widely used on food, is NOT a regulated term. Only recently, under pressure from big commercial concerns (which are a constant threat to the purity of the brand), Formic Acid was approved for treatment in organic honey production. I believe this is a deep disservice to the bees and their immune system health, as using this chemical, (and others) has been shown in research to disrupt gut system flora/fauna and pH in bees and, with time, tends to select for resistant pathogens and weaker bees. I insist that we must be more patient with biological genetic selection instead of finding a chemical fix to shortcut the process. Varroa only arrived a short time ago (in terms of “real time”) from populations of Apis cerana which have their own developed resistance. This is the philosophy behind the ‘no treatment’ regimen. There are a average of nine feral hives (unmanaged bees) per square mile in the Los Angeles basin, according to a survey by the Ag Commission. Certainly, those bees are not being treated, and we find in our re-homing operations, that these bees are vigorous, healthy, produce lots of honey, and have varroa. They are adapting and living with the pathogen, and that is our goal for learning to live with a invasive species.
For your second question, about removable top bars—we are required by state code to have removable frames, though some are keeping Warre’s, top-bars, and all sorts of hybrids. We in the urban beek community have little interaction with inspectors, probably because the attention of the authorities has not tended to focus on the urban beeks, but the massive commercial pollinator operations in our state. In my city of Manhattan Beach, there is no prohibition on keeping bees, and in some other towns it is allowed specifically (Santa Monica, Redondo Beach). Since most beeks are actually keeping their backyard bees “under the radar” and do not have their hives registered with the State, most are not known. I happen to have mine registered, but it is a very low-key operation since the Department is way understaffed/budgeted and unless there is a direct complaint to its office, there is unlikely to be any oversight.
HoneyLove has been very active in pushing for legalization of urban beekeeping in the various city jurisdictions and now, with testimony last month aimed toward the full LA City Council, we have good feelings about the success of the goal for all of Los Angeles.
One thing that occurs to me in your description of the hive you are using and it being “a low-management type of hive” is the great difference in the activity levels at various seasons in your country. I have to watch my hives carefully, even in “winter” (it rarely falls below 45 degrees F. at night) for crowding of the brood chamber or becoming honeybound. My strong hives are producing drones almost all the time, are bringing in nectar and pollen year-round, and only stay inside when it is raining. (considering the intense drought we are in, with only 4 inches of rainfall the ENTIRE year of 2013, bees in the wild areas of the foothills and coastal scrub are in for a tough time, the forcasters are predicting the same for 2014—this is the fortunate thing for bees in the urban, irrigated landscape—forage of Southern Hemisphere and Mediterranean plants all the time) I don’t think I could just let them be unmanaged and still head off swarming. One of the major promises we make to authorities in pushing for the legalization effort is the careful prevention of swarming, as this is the issue which enrages non-beekeeping citizens. The gathering of swarms from feral hives, not importation of “bred-bees”, (package bees) is a further incentive to officials to work with us to manage the bee population that is already here and commonly exterminated as a initial response. This model saves municipalities money and drapes them in a “Green-cred” mantel many communities are currently embracing anyway.
Now, I am a relatively new beek, so maybe your hive structure could be maintained without swarming in my climate, but it is probably speculation for you, too, to try to guess about this.
I hope this offers you enough “brain-pickings” and “further insights” to keep up the conversation! Susan Rudnicki
I don’t know that the hive is engineered to accept that kind of weight–Dennis’s comment—at one end. It could be tending to tip over.
Mr Miller—would you cite the document you refer to in “Africanized bees have a high swarm tendency”? I have heard this assertion many times but have not seen a study on it—seems more folklore than my own experience. The Ag Commission of LA County did a survey of ferals here in 1994 and found a average of 9 colonies per square mile as well as a preponderance of the population showing African genetics on lab testing. Still, with good space management, I don’t find them swarming willy-nilly.
I only have feral bees and love them! Eleven hives, and just one is somewhat more sketchy than all the others. The bees in this hive—in a yard with 7 other hives—follow me around after I work with them (while I work in the other hives) and are more skittery when I move the frames in and out. Colonies seem to definitely have certain moods and characteristics, just as all of us do.November 30, 2013 at 7:19 pm in reply to: Live bee removal outfits—who is really doing the job right #7309
HI, Walker—I just read your note about the bees you have had from Ron, the bee specialist. Frankly, I can not see how a person could do rescue for 30 years and be truly “unaware” of the needs of a colony for bee space and support of the brood combs in some organization resembling what their former hive looked like.
The problem with this forum is, unless you log in and peruse the subjects, no one rescuing bees is likely to see this posting of services needed. We need a way for the alert to just go out to the whole membership immediately. I just saw this post myself and it is 6 days old.October 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm in reply to: Live bee removal outfits—who is really doing the job right #7080
Hi, Ruben—in our club work, we know that to do a truly “humane” and viable removal, the bees must be carefully transferred with their brood combs and nurse bees to frames with supporting string or rubber bands. They are then placed in a hive body, many of the foragers must be scooped out of the old site and the hive must be left for returning foragers to find home for the night. Honey comb, being very drippy and messy if put inside the hive body, should be placed in baggie feeders to be fed back to the bees as they will need this resource to repair the combs, draw more combs and overcome the chaos and disruption of re-homing. This is the kind of work Ruth and Tyson are doing at Bee Capture, but very unlikely to be done by other large commercial outfits. There is a lot of “green washing ” going on in the bee removal trade, as the folks running these businesses are piggy-backing on the public’s concern for loss of pollinators covered in the media. There are many firms capitalizing on this concern, charging a premium for “green procedures” and simply vacuuming up the loose bees, trashing all the combs in a garbage bag and releasing the bees elsewhere. Some are cutting out all the brood combs and honey combs, stacking the entire structure in a pile in a cardboard box and whatever bees they can gather up and delivering that to commercial beeks. There are several permutations of the model, but none are kind or helpful to furthering the bee’s existence. The main reason they do not do it “properly” is it takes TOO much time.
Erik—I have received a voicemail message from you on my phone (landline only) and cannot make out the number you left. You say you are looking for bees to adopt. I have listened several times but it is a blur as you speak, so you must call me back and leave clearly and slowly. Cell phones often distort the sound.